Last week, Eventline looked at the challenge wedding planners face from cost-conscious brides—armed with data from Web sites and other sources—who push hard to drive down prices. (For more, click here.)
To fight against bargaining brides and the sour economy, many wedding planners have developed new ways to package their talents. Some examples:
"We've gotten creative about how we present our services to clients. Instead of the old school packages, we give them an à la carte list of every service we can provide and they 'go shopping.' This helps them to see that every service has a value. If the total cost is over their budget, it is clear that removing some items from their 'shopping cart' will bring the price down, but we aren't asked to give them the whole list but for a smaller fee. We don't discount."—Tanya Posavatz, CSEP, CLINK, Austin, Texas
"While I have kept my fees constant, I have implemented a few 'levels of services' that a bride can choose from--for a flat fee, with the option to work with us on an hourly fee should they decide to engage with us for service not provided for by their contracted level. This was my way of giving the brides some flexibility in how they chose to work with us at the price point/ level of their choosing. This has worked fairly well for us, and for the most part, brides and their families have been receptive. It was the solution I came up with that felt like a 'win-win.'"--Cynthia Basker, Celebrated Events, South Bend, Ind.
"We offer full event design alongside coordination, which sets us apart from some of the other local event planners, but also can cause our price points to be slightly higher. We welcome negotiating the price if it means removing services, but we won't sacrifice the company's self-worth just to meet the brides' demands."--Tara Wilson, Tara Wilson Events, Fort Worth, Texas
"I spend a lot more time discussing exactly what the bride really needs from me and create a service package that addresses just those needs and price it accordingly. In the past I had three levels of service each with its own price range; now, it is completely custom. If she just wants a blueprint for her wedding, I create that for her, she pays me and is on her way, and my involvement ends there. Or she may want me to coach her through the planning process; she does the work, I keep her on the right track, or I do everything for her. It is very difficult to limit what I do, but in order to be profitable I have to be very disciplined in laying out exactly what I can do for the amount she is willing and in many cases able to pay."--Gwen Helbush, Where to Start Wedding and Event Management, Newark, Calif.
"We are pleased to be presenting our clients with destination wedding packages, which have just launched with The Royal Hawaiian in Oahu, with several other luxury properties are soon to join in the roster. The preliminary response from our clientele has been a very excited one, as a destination event is often times substantially more affordable than a big city wedding."--David Beahm, David Beahm Destinations, New York
"I have adjusted prices, 25 percent less that what I usually charge from November till mid-January since November and December are traditionally the slowest booking window. I am back to charging regular prices, and things are picking up! Also, more short-term/day-of service business than before."--Mary Dann, Mary Dann Wedding and Party Coordinators, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
"I have lowered my fees because the time I am working with my brides has changed—three months versus a year. I'm charging a monthly rate—even though it's the same amount of work."--Nancy Swiezy, A Newport Affaire, Newport, R.I., and New York
Photo by iStockphoto.com/ © Kateryna Govorushchenko